Nowness Files

Wiel Arets, Nowness Files: IIT Architecture Chicago 2012-2018 (Chicago/New York: IITAC/Actar, 2019), 1-2.

Nowness has been our approach since it was launched in 2013, in order to present the dreams and goals of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Ar­chitecture to the world. Nowness Files is a printed me­dium that announces the college’s directions, and its principal aims. 'Rethinking Metropolis' is the theme that the school has operated under, since the inaugural publi­cation of Nowness. Traversing the digital and physical landscapes; questioning the architectural discipline; crit­ically thinking and debating; model making and the act of drawing. These activities are dualities, which only partially comprise the foundation of today’s architectural edu­ cation. Today’s students are also young­ architects from all over the world; they take a stance, collaborate cross­ culturally, and engage with metropolises through time. Fast­-paced and highly connected, today’s architectural discipline, and education, functions in symbiosis with technology that as little as twenty­-five years ago, was practi­cally non­existent. How must we approach this myriad web of complex technologies–to both shape and mitigate the metropolis–considering that it is largely through uncon­scious acts that we experience our urban realms? Invisible forces will shape the world’s metropolises in the coming decades, but how will architects respond and interact with these shape­shifting powers, which will also drive rapid change? If the technology used to adapt and study our metropolises is a largely recent phenomenon, then it is technology still in its infancy; architects thus have the in­tellectual capacity and proper skill set to allow them to exert influence on production methods through which they create, for critical thinking, for research, for making. Such dualities of today will blur in our future.

The ‘Rethinking Metropolis’ theme anticipated divi­sions as these, and it was successful in reaching a diverse audience, while also relaying architecture’s multidisci­plinary nature to the City of Chicago, and the world be­yond its border. Equipped with collective knowledge of previous generations; students bring with them, a cer­tain openness toward new ideas; new thoughts and new approaches. As society races toward the twenty-­second century, the twentieth century is quickly becoming but a narrow distant dream–which we must not romanticize, but instead, learn from. ‘Rethinking Metropolis' has guided the College of Architecture during the recent period of im­mense change in architecture, during the second decade of the twenty­ first century. How will our future global me­tropolises be created, connected, experienced, and maintained? What will exist, outside of them? How can we contribute to seeing that the world’s rainforests survive? Will geographical borders sharpen, or dissolve? How will the metropolis and countryside meet? Where; when; how? Questions as these, today’s student­ architects will work to resolve, tomorrow. How will they do so? The 'Rethink­ing Metropolis' educational theme at the College of Ar­chitecture was, therefore, only a starting point for future discourse, making, and thinking about exciting–yet still loosely defined–ways in which architects will anticipate, create, make, and adapt metropolises, in our near future.